Articles Posted in Construction Law

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Dale Ladd hired Hammerhead Contracting & Development, LLC to build a house. After a dispute arose regarding the amount owed for the construction of Ladd’s home, Brandon Holmes filed a Laborer’s, Mechanic’s, or Materialman’s Lien on behalf of the LLC for the amount of $101,676, the additional amount Hammerhead asserted that Ladd owed. Ladd filed suit against Holmes to remove the lien. Hammerhead then filed an amended complaint against Ladd seeking judgment for the $101,676. The cases were consolidated. The circuit court (1) granted Ladd’s motion to dismiss Hammerhead’s complaint because of its failure to give the notice required by Ark. Code Ann. 18-44-115; (2) granted summary judgment in favor of Ladd on Ladd’s complaint and ordered the lien canceled; and (3) found that Ark. Code Ann. 18-44-115(a)(4), which bars suit by a contractor who fails to provide statutory notice, is constitutional. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the circuit court erred in finding that the direct-sales exception in Ark. Code Ann. 18-44-115(a)(8) to the residential preconstruction-notice requirement can never apply to a contractor. View "Hammerhead Contracting & Dev. v. Ladd" on Justia Law

Posted in: Construction Law

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Appellant entered into a contract with Contractor for the construction of a new home. At some point after the project had begun, the parties had a disagreement, and Appellant ordered that Contractor cease work on the project. Contractor filed a lien on Appellant’s property claiming he was entitled to $25,821 for the labor, services, and materials that he had arranged and for which he had already paid. Contractor then filed this suit praying for judgment in the same amount and requesting that his lien be given priority over Bank, which had provided financing for the construction project. The court temporarily sustained a mechanics’ and materialmen’s lien attached to Appellant’s property. Appellant filed an interlocutory appeal alleging jurisdiction pursuant to Ark. R. App. P.-Civ. 2(a)(5), which provides that an appeal may be taken from an order that sustains an attachment. Because the court’s order in this case was not an attachment within the meaning of this rule, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal as an unauthorized interlocutory appeal. View "Denney v. Denney" on Justia Law

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After a jury trial in 1983, Petitioner was found guilty of murder in the first degree and aggravated robbery. Petitioner was sentenced as a habitual offender to an aggregate term of life imprisonment. In 2005, Petitioner filed a pro se petition requesting permission to proceed in the trial court with a petition for writ of error coram nobis. The petition was denied. Petitioner then filed a second petition requesting permission to proceed in the trial court with a petition for writ of error corm nobis. The Supreme Court denied the petition, holding (1) to the extent Petitioner again alleged a Brady violation and asserted that erroneous evidence was used to establish that he was a habitual offender, these two claims were asserted in Petitioner’s first petition and were an abuse of the writ; (2) Petitioner’s remaining claims were either without merit or outside the purview of a coram-nobis proceeding; and (3) even if Petitioner had presented grounds sufficient to support issuance of the writ, his failure to act with due diligence would constitute good cause to deny the petition. View "Williams v. State" on Justia Law

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Metropolitan National Bank agreed to finance construction of a residential subdivision. As security for the note, Ruskin Heights executed a mortgage on the real property in favor of Metropolitan. The afternoon after construction commenced, Metropolitan filed its mortgage. Approximately two years later, Crafton, Tull, Sparks & Associates, Inc. (CTSA) filed an engineering lien against the property. Metropolitan filed a foreclosure complaint against Ruskin Heights and others. CTSA then filed a complaint asserting an engineer’s lien against Ruskin Heights and an amended complaint against Ruskin Heights and Metropolitan, requesting that its lien be declared superior to Metropolitan’s mortgage lien. The cases were consolidated. The circuit court concluded that CTSA’s lien was second in priority to Metropolitan’s lien. CTSA appealed, arguing that its lien should relate back to the commencement of construction and have priority over Metropolitan’s mortgage pursuant to Ark. Code Ann. 18-44-110. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Metropolitan’s lien did not have priority over CTSA’s engineer’s lien because section 18-44-110 does not allow for an engineer’s lien to relate back to the date of construction. View "Crafton Tull Sparks & Assocs., Inc. v. Ruskin Heights, LLC" on Justia Law

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BCC Construction, LLC (“BCC”) hired Sweet’s Contracting, Inc. (“SCI”) to perform work on a construction project. The parties entered into a subcontract that contained a pay-if-paid clause. After a dispute arose regarding how much compensation SCI was owed under the subcontract, SCI filed a materialmen’s lien against the project. BCC filed a bond in contest of the lien, and Travelers Casualty & Surety Company (“Travelers”) issued a lien-release bond as surety on behalf of BCC. SCI sued BCC and Travelers seeking recovery under the lien-release bond. The circuit court dismissed the claims against BCC, concluding that the pay-if-paid clause in the subcontract barred recovery from BCC because there was no evidence that BCC had been paid by the owner for the work it allegedly performed. A jury subsequently awarded damages against Travelers. The circuit court denied Travelers’ motion for directed verdict and entered judgment against it. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the circuit court (1) did not err in granting BCC’s motion for directed verdict; and (2) erred in denying Travelers’ motion for directed verdict, as Travelers, the surety, could not be liable where BCC, the principal, was not liable. View "Travelers Cas. & Sur. Co. of Am. v. Sweet's Contracting Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Construction Law

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Appellee, a construction company, filed a complaint for declaratory judgment against Appellants, the Arkansas State Claims Commission, the General Assembly’s Claims Review Subcommittee, the General Assembly’s Joint Budget Committee, the Arkansas State Highway Commission, and the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department. The circuit court granted in part and denied in part Appellants’ motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded on direct appeal and granted Appellants’ motion to dismiss the cross-appeal, holding (1) Appellee’s equal-protection claim was barred by sovereign immunity; and (2) the Court lacked jurisdiction over Appellee’s cross-appeal. View "Ark. State Claims Comm'n v. Duit Constr. Co." on Justia Law

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Susan and David Conrad purchased a home constructed by J-McDaniel Construction Company (McDaniel) and later discovered defects in the home. The Conrads sued McDaniel. McDaniel filed a third-party complaint against three subcontractors (collectively, Appellees). The subcontractors then filed cross-claims against each other seeking contribution, indemnity and apportionment of fault. The Conrads settled their claims against McDaniel. The circuit court ultimately dismissed McDaniel’s third-party claims against Appellees. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that unresolved issues of fact remained regarding whether McDaniel had a right of indemnity against Appellees under the facts of this case. View "J-McDaniel Constr. Co. v. Dale E. Peters Plumbing Ltd." on Justia Law

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This dispute centered on a contract for the construction of a residence. The contract between the general contractor (Contractor) and the owners (Owners) was contingent upon Owners obtaining financing. After construction was completed, Contractor asserted a materialman's lien on the house, arguing that Owners had refused to fully compensate Contractor. After Owners filed suit to protest the lien, the parties agreed to discharge the lien. Contractor later sued Owners based on Owners' failure to disclose that they had obtained inadequate financing. The circuit court dismissed the complaint on the grounds that Contractor's claims were statutorily barred for failure to strictly comply with requirements for the notice of its lien. The order was silent as to the other two grounds Owners had asserted for dismissal and with respect to any of the arguments raised in defense of Owners' motion to dismiss. Contractor appealed, arguing reversal based on other arguments raised below but not ruled on. The Supreme Court affirmed, as (1) the circuit court did not provide a ruling on Contractor's first three arguments, and they were therefore not preserved for appellate review; and (2) Contractor's fourth argument had no merit given the Court's summary affirmance on the first three points. View "TEMCO Constr., LLC v. Gann" on Justia Law

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A construction company and its principals (collectively, Appellants) hired a plumbing company (Peters), excavation company (Bostic), and marble company (Esquire) as subcontractors for the construction of Appellants' home. After Buyers purchased the home, Buyers filed a complaint against Appellants, alleging negligence and breach of the implied warranties of habitability, sound workmanship, and proper construction. Appellants filed a third-party complaint against Peters, Bostic, and Esquire, alleging several causes of action. Bostic subsequently filed cross-claims against Peters, and Peters filed cross-claims against both Bostic and Esquire. Thereafter, the circuit court (1) granted Peters' motion for summary judgment on the third-party complaint, (2) granted summary judgment for Bostic on Peters' cross-claim, and (3) granted Esquire's motion for summary judgment on the third-party complaint. Appellants appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that the Court lacked jurisdiction because a final order had not been entered disposing of all the claims. View "J-McDaniel Constr. Co. v. Dale E. Peters Plumbing Ltd." on Justia Law

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Circle D Contractors filed suit in district court to collect from the Bartletts money owed for the installation of a swimming pool. The district court ruled in favor of Circle D. The Barletts appealed. Circle D did not refile an additional complaint within thirty days, and the Barletts moved to dismiss Circle D's complaint as untimely. The circuit court dismissed the complaint, ruling that Circle D had failed to strictly comply with the requirements of District Court Rule 9 by failing to timely refile its complaint in circuit court. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) only substantial compliance with the rule that a plaintiff refile its complaint in circuit court is required; and (2) Circle D substantially complied with rule 9 because all of its pleadings that were previously filed in district court were filed in circuit court, albeit by the Bartletts, and moreover, Circle D also refiled its complaint in circuit court. Remanded. View "Circle D Contractors, Inc. v. Bartlett" on Justia Law